Manual The Living Daylights

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The best Bond movies always seem to be putting us on, to be supplying the most implausible and dangerous stunts in order to assure us they can't possibly be real. But in "The Living Daylights," there is a scene where Bond and his girlfriend escape danger by sliding down a snow-covered mountain in a cello case, and damned if Dalton doesn't look as if he thinks it's just barely possible. The plot of the new movie is the usual grab bag of recent headlines and exotic locales. Bond, who is assigned to help a renegade Russian general defect to the West, stumbles across a plot involving a crooked American arms dealer, the war in Afghanistan and a plan to smuggle a half-billion dollars worth of opium.

The Living Daylights (film)

The story takes Bond from London to Prague, from mountains to deserts, from a chase down the slopes of Gibraltar to a fight that takes place while Bond and his enemy are hanging out of an airplane. The usual stuff. One thing that isn't usual in this movie is Bond's sex life.

No doubt because of the AIDS epidemic, Bond is not his usual promiscuous self, and he goes to bed with only one, or perhaps two, women in this whole film it depends on whether you count the title sequence, where he parachutes onto the boat of a woman in a bikini.

The Living Daylights

This sort of personal restraint is admirable, coming from Bond, but given his past sexual history surely it is the woman, not Bond, who is at risk. The key female character is Kara Maryam d'Abo , the Russian cellist, who gets involved in the plot with the Russian general, tries to work against Bond and eventually falls in love with him.

As the only "Bond girl" in the movie, d'Abo has her assignment cut out for her, and unfortunately she's not equal to it. She doesn't have the charisma or the mystique to hold the screen with Bond or Dalton and is the least interesting love interest in any Bond film. There's another problem.


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The Bond films succeed or fail on the basis of their villains, and Joe Don Baker , as the arms-dealing Whitaker, is not one of the great Bond villains. He's a kooky phony general who plays with toy soldiers and never seems truly diabolical.

Living Daylights, The (United Kingdom, 1987)

Without a great Bond girl, a great villain or a hero with a sense of humor, "The Living Daylights" belongs somewhere on the lower rungs of the Bond ladder. But there are some nice stunts. This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland.

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For example, when the KGB agent is trying to kidnap a defector back, he does so while disguised as a milkman with exploding milk bottles; because Bond film. Then we reach the third act in Afghanistan and, well, people often label this as the film where Bond aids the Taliban and to be fair that is a gross oversimplification of events but also… not entirely untrue.


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It is amusing to imagine that in the universe of this film there was probably a statue built to Bond for his help in thwarting the Soviets in the great battle this film ends on, then imagining the awkward questions such a statue would raise for Bond a couple decades later. And boy oh boy, has that joke at the end about the Mujahideen getting delayed in airport security has not aged well. Featured Image Credit.

He is a two-time film graduate who, by day, wastes his life working through a less aesthetically interesting 'Brazil'-like bureaucracy. You absolutely shouldn't listen to his James Bond podcast "Quantum of Friendship".

Yes, he's knows the name is terrible. Yes, that was the point.

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The Living Daylights Movie Review () | Roger Ebert

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